Eurosport owner Discovery to make Olympic Games content fit for short-form on mobile screens

The Olympics at MWC

Discovery Networks, the owner of Eurosport, is working to broaden its Olympics coverage from “one billion big screens” worldwide to “10 billion mobile screens” in a bid to exploit the growth of online video viewing ahead of the Tokyo Games in 2022.

Jean-Briac Perrette, president and chief executive of Discovery, outlined at MWC on Wednesday (1 March) how the company will leverage mobile at the tournament. The move aims to make the most of the broadcast rights to the tournament, which Discovery will be the exclusive broadcaster for from 2018-2024 following a £920m deal.

“As we became home of the Olympics, the biggest global event, we needed to find more ways to bring that to more people across Europe,” explained Perrette. “We tried to innovate the product and create an opportunity for mobile partners in each market to partner with the Olympic rings and broadcast on mobile.”

Backed by these localised mobile network deals, Discovery plans to introduce a more local feel to its output. “We are about making Eurosport more premium, local and relevant, we absolutely believe that we must tailor it for every market. We try to find the correct faces (ideally of iconic athletes) to get it a relevancy point,” he continued. “We want it to feel local in every market.”

“The journey is innovating our storytelling, we’re pretty good at long-form but now we’re looking at shorter-form takes for millennials. We have access to the Olympic archives and we will find creative ways to use that.”

Perrette broadcast a clip from Usain Bolt’s historic 100 metre sprint in London five years ago; as the race started data appeared on the screen contextualising his pace against Jesse Owens in 1936, with the visualisations both informing and entertaining viewers via a medium that could easily be consumed on mobile and shared across social media.

“The biggest change for us is that we focused on the 20-inch screen, then the 40-inch and 60-inch - it was all about the big screen. We realised it was a billion screens but now we look are also looking at the 10 billion mobile screens. Now we are trying to figure out how to maintain the balance and tap into the incredible growth of mobile."

Mobile operators are hungry for content like sporting events in order to carve out revenue streams beyond data and voice. Yet, Perrette noted that they will struggle to cut-through to viewers if the content they are getting is not created exclusively for them.

“There is a lot of experimentation around non-exclusive content on mobile, but if it’s not unique, it’s hard to differentiate. Mobile is telling us they need something truly ubiquitous - we know the price for the sports stuff is not insignificant but we can work around that.”

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